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Matthew Hoffman's You Are Beautiful billboard at Mohawk Street and Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo

You Are Beautiful billboard at Mohawk Street and Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo. Photograph by Tom Loonan.

Locations: Throughout Erie County

In 2014, over the Labor Day weekend, billboards began to appear across Erie County bearing a simple message to residents: “You Are Beautiful.” The art was the work of Chicago-based artist and designer Matthew Hoffman. Hoffman began the project as a graffiti-style self-affirmation scrawled on the rusting trusses of an underpass in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. Following significant praise for this tiny gesture, Hoffman began to develop stickers bearing the phrase that have now been circulated across the globe, as well as massive installations in all manner of media. Whatever they are made of, Hoffman’s signs have gained a foothold in the landscape wherever he has produced them. The Erie County presentation of the work is the most immersive that the artist has created to date.

Silver sticker that says "You Are Beautiful"You Are Beautiful presents the philosophical notion of essential beauty in our personal lives and collective landscapes. Hoffman has commented, “When the phrase ‘You Are Beautiful’ is integrated into a city or community, it creates an immediate positive dialogue.” Hoffman’s quest was to make a statement that was always true. “I found that I couldn’t make this statement true with any other word than ‘beautiful,’” he said. Though the artist pursues other projects that align with his enthusiasm for creating moments that support positive placemaking while advocating for public compassion, You Are Beautiful has become a lifelong commitment.

You Are Beautiful stickers were available free at many community events and sites throughout fall 2014.

Matthew Hoffman’s You Are Beautiful billboard at Hyde Park Boulevard and Seneca Avenue

Matthew Hoffman’s You Are Beautiful billboard at Hyde Park Boulevard and Seneca Avenue. Photograph by Tom Loonan.

Matthew Hoffman’s You Are Beautiful billboard at Gerard and Builders Way

Matthew Hoffman’s You Are Beautiful billboard at Gerard and Builders Way. Photograph by Tom Loonan.

Matthew Hoffman’s You Are Beautiful billboard at Kensington Expressway and Dick Road

Matthew Hoffman’s You Are Beautiful billboard at Kensington Expressway and Dick Road. Photograph by Tom Loonan.

Matthew Hoffman’s You Are Beautiful billboard on Kenmore Avenue

Matthew Hoffman’s You Are Beautiful billboard on Kenmore Avenue. Photograph by Tom Loonan.

Matthew Hoffman’s You Are Beautiful billboard at Elk and Seneca Streets

Matthew Hoffman’s You Are Beautiful billboard at Elk and Seneca Streets. Photograph by Tom Loonan.

Matthew Hoffman’s You Are Beautiful billboard off Dart Street

Matthew Hoffman’s You Are Beautiful billboard off Dart Street. Photograph by Tom Loonan.

Matthew Hoffman’s You Are Beautiful billboard at Hertel and Parker Avenues

Matthew Hoffman’s You Are Beautiful billboard at Hertel and Parker Avenues. Photograph by Tom Loonan.

Matthew Hoffman's You Are Beautiful billboard at Mohawk Street and Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo

You Are Beautiful billboard at Mohawk Street and Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo. Photograph by Tom Loonan.

About Matthew Hoffman

Matthew Hoffman (American, born 1979) is a Chicago-based artist and designer whose expansive portfolio has been exhibited internationally. His ideas and work have been included in Good, The New York Times Magazine, and Ready Made. He has been published in a number of books by Gestalten, Droog, and Taschen. He was recently recognized in the New City’s Design Top 50: Who Shapes Chicago 2014 (March 2014), and was awarded Best Established Artist in the Chicago Reader’s public poll (June 2014). Visit Matthew Hoffman’s Website

Initiative Sponsors

The Public Art Initiative is supported by the County of Erie and the City of Buffalo.

Project Sponsors

This project is supported, in part, by a partnership with Lamar Advertising.

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  • A large blue billboard with yellow letters that say "I love you like a Lake Erie sunset"
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    Stephen Powers's Emotional Wayfinding

    Stephen Powers's AK Public Art project Emotional Wayfinding, 2018, also took the form of billboards around Erie County.

    Learn More
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